Monday, December 17, 2012


My heart breaks for all who are touched by the particular horrors in Portland and Sandy Hook this week, but it aches most for the children who witnessed such tragedy first hand.  Awful enough to hear about it...but for the children to live it, and feel powerless to change it, really seems more than we can expect children to bear.

My little boy, who thankfully was not present when his dad and I were shot,  has been struggling lately with why God "let this happen to us." No "answer" I could possibly offer will soothe his aching heart.  I can only attest to the fact that God was with me in my deepest despair, and  I am confident of His great love for each of us. I am praying Luke will continue to have a tender heart that can receive the love and comfort that is his in Christ.  I am praying this for all who are hurting today.

Such terrible things we humans can do to one another.  Such terrible acts of violence that leave so many suffering loss beyond comprehension.  It "feels" like the last word...but it is not. 

Friday, December 7, 2012


Okay, I should know by now that I WILL  have the opportunity to put my-money-where-my-mouth-is when I blog about a particular topic.  Well, I failed miserably yesterday.  I had the opportunity to admit my weaknesses and lean on Him, and I didn't do it...I tried to predicted, it didn't work so well for me.  Goodness, I have some serious pride issues.  Thankful, though, that He is always ready to receive when I am ready to turn it over to Him.  Thankful, also, that He does not coddle me in this area...but calls me out on it!  At the end of the day, I had the opportunity to reflect on how things would have gone if I had been more humble. The outcome would probably have been exactly the same, but the journey would have been completely different. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Weakness and Fools

I have the feeling God is speaking to my heart about weaknesses.  This has been the theme in all my readings from Scripture to daily devotions to "regular" books.  Weaknesses...plural to be sure.  I am wondering what I will learn about myself in the coming weeks or months.  I already know a lot about my weaknesses...I am easily distracted. I don't multitask well (because I am easily distracted). I am too critical of my children. I don't expect enough from my children.  I suffer from "revolving world syndrome" (which is probably what I suffer from the most)...

I love the verses that say  " But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong " and "for when I am weak, then I am strong."  I really get all that...when I remember to ponder it.  Often, I just blow through the day getting frustrated with my foolishness and  weaknesses, but then I am reminded that it is not my strength or wisdom that is is my trust in the One who is more than "strong enough" to help me bear whatever load needs to be carried, and who is more than "wise enough" to instruct and guide me along right paths. 

I am reading a book about being a praying parent.  I am a praying parent, and I want to grow in this area...but I also know it is not that saying all the right words in prayer or thinking all the right thoughts will protect and shield my children like rubbing a magic lamp and making a wish.  I know from first-hand experience that prayer is powerful and it sustains...but I also know that when I decide, in advance, what the answer to my prayer should look like then I am a fool masquerading as a wise man.  How do people come away with the idea that if we just pray the right prayer and our faith is strong enough then nothing we don't want to have happen will happen?  I am thinking they are not reading the same Bible that I am. (Yes, I know there are passages that taken by themselves might lead to those thoughts, but taken as a whole, the Word makes it clear--LOL--to me anyway ;-)--that trouble and calamity can be expected in this life  even as our desire to know and be known by God deepens... and yet that paradoxical Peace can be expected to be right there in the midst of all that calamity.) Most of us really do know that the absence of hard times is not a reflection of our goodness any more than the presence of difficulties is proof we are unrighteous...yet we seem to buy into that mentality repeatedly.  I guess maybe on some level we want it to be true.  But since none of us is all that "good" to begin with, I think that wouldn't work out so well for most of us.  At least I know it wouldn't for me.

When I say I am a "weak fool," I am not trying to be self-deprecating.  I am stating a fact that allows me to receive, for my good,  His strength and His wisdom.  Oh, that I could consistently recognize what a weak fool I am.  I sure could save myself a heap of worry and trouble.  Instead I have tried at different times to cover it up in my pretense that I am strong and wise. I am so thankful that this is not a fight I have to fight on my own...and actually the Battle is already won for me (and for you).  Now, wouldn't I be foolish to forget this?

The strife is o'er, the battle won;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph  has begun.

Words: Un­known au­thor; trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by Fran­cis Pott, 1861.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Things are good here.  I am in a good place with much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day.  I wrote this post quite a while ago and have no idea why I never published it--and even though I am better than "okay," I thought I would share it. 

Saturday, August 4
Forward Day by Day (Publication)

Psalm 27:
The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid?

Montgomery, Alabama, 1961.  James Zwerg sat inside a bus and watched men with bats, chains and clubs advance.  A member of the Freedom Riders, a group of black and white college students who were traveling throughout the South to desegregate public transportation, he feared he would be killed. 

When other students first had asked him to join the Freedom Riders, James read Psalm 27 to find courage.  Rejected by his parents because of his involvement in the civil rights movement, he was particularly touched by the fourteenth verse; "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." 

James volunteered to be the first one off the bus.  The mob battered him.

It would be nice if a neat, happy ending followed, but Jesus never promised us there were no costs.  Anger and guilt plagued James, and he sought therapy.  Yet he calls the experience one of the most beautiful in his life.  In the midst of the beating, as he prayed for strength to remain nonviolent and forgive, he felt an overwhelming presence and peace, and knew he would be okay.


"Okay" just has to be good enough a lot of times.  "Okay" gets a bad wrap, I think.  When you look at it from one side, "okay" seems to be a bit lackluster.  But when you look at "okay" from the other side,  its beauty just might be revealed in it's very lack of ugliness.  "Okay" is also where you have to pass through on your way to "even better."   So, I'll take "okay," and be glad for it. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Will Survive, Part 2

Well, I was having a rough week.  I have actually had quite a few lately.  I found myself whining inwardly A LOT!  I am sure I was whining outwardly too, but the inward whining was really loud. 

One particular morning last week, I caught myself in a funk but singing lyrics to that song over and over.

"Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how you did me wrong.
And I grew strong!

"So now you're back...
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face.
I should have changed that stupid lock!
I should have made you leave your key!
If I had known for just one second you'd be back to bother me.

"Go on now, go, walk out that door!
Just turn around now‚
cause you're not welcome any more.

"And you see me somebody new!
I'm not that chained-up little person still in love with you."

I realized this is a great song with which to serenade that beast, self-pity. It made me laugh out loud when I thought about it. So I sang louder in hopes of drowning out my whiny-ness. It worked. Of course, it didn't last. I found myself again, today, swimming in self-pity, self-doubt and disappointment in myself and my abilities.  BUT...I am going to start singing again...and I think tonight I'll add some dance moves ;-) 

All is well.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Apple Tree Update!

An apple from one of our transplanted trees!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Will Survive

Gloria Gaynor's hit "I Will Survive" is currently my daughter's fav-or-ite song.  She has the you-tube video marked on our favorites bar.   She will play it over and over and over, singing about 2/3 of the  words correctly as she belts out the lyrics she doesn't quite know yet. She reminds me of someone ;-) 

I can still remember the first 45 vinyl I ever requested as a Christmas gift.  Paul Davis's "I Go Crazy."  I loved that song, and whenever I hear it (LOL! usually in Kroger) it transports me to the corner bedroom I shared with my sister on Brecon Drive.  In that same bedroom, I  can also remember playing Bread's "Lost Without Your Love" over and over and over, for hours on end, trying to learn the lyrics by heart.  I still know (most) of them.  And whenever I hear it in Kroger, I sing along louder than I should. 

Caley asked me if she could use "I Will Survive" as her ring tone whenever she finally gets a phone...then she decided she would save it for her first break-up and THEN use it as her ring tone! For some reason, I just love that she loves this song.  Since she won't be dating for quite some time...a very long time from now, she's got plenty of time to learn all those lyrics.  Then maybe one night when she is married with children and shopping late at Kroger, she will find herself singing along a little too loudly to go unnoticed. 

You know you wanna (sing along ;-)

Gloria Gaynor

I Will Survive

At first I was afraid I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how you did me wrong.
And I grew strong!
And I learned how to get along!

So now you're back from out of space.
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face.
I should have changed that stupid lock!
I should have made you leave your key!
If I had known for just one second you'd be back to bother me.

Go on now, go, walk out that door!
Just turn around now‚
cause you're not welcome any more.
Weren't you the one who tried to hurt (break) me with goodbye?
Did I crumble
Did I lay down and die

Oh no, not I! I will survive!
Oh and as long as I know how to love I know I stay alive.
I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give.
And I'll survive!
I will survive! Hey, hey.

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart.
Kept tryin' hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart!
And I spent oh so many nights
just feeling sorry for myself. I used to cry!
But now I hold my head up high.

And you see me somebody new!
I'm not that chained-up little person still in love with you.
And so you feel like droppin' in,
and just expect me to be free,
now I'm saving all my loving for someone who is loving me!

Go on now...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Turn

Last week,  we were all watching Mississippi State play Auburn.  I started yelling and hollering.  My daughter said I was embarrassing her.  I looked at her.  We were watching the game on tv in our living room. She said it again.  "I know no one is here, but it's still embarrassing."  

Then I remembered how adult emotion of any kind makes most kids of a certain age soooo uncomfortable.  I laughed.  She really shouldn't have given me such good ammunition. She has no idea how good a discipline tool this piece of knowledge will be in the coming years.  When kids are little, they can embarrass their parents pretty easily by the things they say and do.  BUT now it is my turn.

It will be a few more years (and maybe not ever) before I can embarrass her brother. It is too early to tell, but preliminary polling indicates he may be one who is just encouraged to one-up my parental embarrassment tactics. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I want free-will, but I don't want to suffer any consequences from my decisions or the decisions of others... I want Him to intervene sometimes, but get angry when He tries to direct me onto a path that is best in the long-run but not immediately gratifying. I make conscious choices about what I eat and drink (putting all kinds of chemicals, too much sugar and fat,etc. into my body) and the exercise I don't get regularly and don't want my body to suffer any harm as a result.
oh, and  I want my entire path to be revealed when I am not even willing to take the next step that has been made clear. I want people to “just act right” but then I don’t always “act right” myself.

I want, I want, I want...

Irony. To be truly free, I must re-gift the the Giver (no less) -- returning the gift to Him and allowing Him to change "my wants" into a desire for "His wants." Then one really cool part of all this is that I become part of the healing of this world instead of part of its destruction...because I become aware I've been redeemed when it seems I was beyond redemption, loved when I have been so unlovely, forgiven for seemingly unforgivable acts.  When I keep these things in mind, I am much better able to extend grace and mercy instead of anger as a response to the hurt and pain that try to be so in-your-face at times. 

I am able to see myself in the ugliness of the world--not in condemnation but in honest appraisal.  Recognizing that truly, by the grace of God, I am not condemned and haunted by the ugliness inside me.  I am free to get back up, let myself be dusted off, and start fresh--taking with me the lessons (often) hard-learned.  May you trust in Him, to extend a loving hand, dust you off, and help you back on your feet for tomorrow.  

Monday, July 9, 2012


This is a post from last week...  

The last few days I have been teetering on the edge of self-pity, which is such a joke because I have also had moments of total peace and joy and contentment. I recently had eye surgery, and that afternoon as I was lying on the couch listening to kids play in the pool was one of those moments. My girlfriend who accompanied me to my appointment was there. The girlfriend who watched my kids that morning was there and playing in the pool with her kids, my kids and my other friend’s kids. My girlfriend who frequently ferries my children to meet my in-laws was there (picking up my children so they could spend the weekend with Todd’s family while I recuperated)…all these women and children I love were here at my home accompanied by a soundtrack of  laughter from these precious kids…and I was completely full with an awareness of how very blessed I am. I mean COMPLETELY full.

Later this weekend, I cried because I was washed over by feelings of loss. Last week, while vacationing with my brother and his family I had several similar moments. Of course, there were mostly happy and content moments. My kids rode every roller coaster in the amusement park we visited…a pleasure they definitely inherited from Todd and not me! Hal taught the kids how to skip stones in Lake Michigan. Something I remember my daddy teaching me on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  So with every beautiful moment there comes the choice to lament Todd not being here or to celebrate that there are others who want to sow into my children’s lives. I have no doubt what Todd would tell me to do. But I will continue to do both, because I honestly don’t know any other way.

The problem comes when I want to allow the ache for him to take over as I sink down into self-pity because of these feelings. Why at certain times is the blanket of self-pity and sadness so appealing when I know it only leads to destruction? I want to swim in the ocean of my blessings instead of sitting on the shore only mourning what our family has lost. I guess there are times when I swim and times when I put my feet down to feel the sand beneath. I think that is okay…I just don’t want to find myself camping far inland…away from fresh water (Lake Michigan, remember) and cool breezes and life. Of course the shore is accompanied by sharp rocks and very cold water…very interesting that all this beauty comes wrapped with many different textures, huh? Coincidence?…I think not ;-)

Today I am full of thankfulness for all the men who are poring themselves into my children’s lives. These men are not taking Todd’s place but stepping up to help fill in the gap left by his absence. There are so many family members and friends who are forming a web of life around my children. And I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just Sayin...

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
John 1:4

I am not sure why I wrote the details I did in the post "Held" but I think I just needed to write them out that day.  Most of you already knew them because you sort of lived it along side me.  I never want to convey the impression that I think I have suffered any more than anyone else. 

I say this because I frequently hear statements from others who belittle their own grief and loss in comparison to mine, and it really frustrates me.  (Of course, I have done this myself too.) There is no ranking extreme grief and is just plain hard no matter how it comes. There is not one of you who reads this who has not been cut to the heart by your own tragedy and loss... maybe it has come through death or lost health, personal assault through violence, the painful break up of your family from divorce, or countless other ways someone experiences it every minute of every day.

I hope this blog is encouraging to those who read it...not showcasing "how pitiful" or "how brave" or *whatever* I am.   But how good God is.  His Light does shine in the darkness.  I am nobody special in this world, but in God's kingdom, I am His beloved child whom He does not abandon (even when I turn my back or throw a fit).  And I am praying you know that you are too. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I was listening to Natalie Grant’s song, Held, this morning. Really listening. I have heard this song many times (I own the CD), but this morning I was just struck by its truth. We want God to change our circumstances—and sometimes He does—but His promise is that we will always be held in the midst of all our circumstances…even (or especially) during the worst of circumstances.

The words to this song start out mourning the death of a child. As a parent, I cannot really even wrap my mind around a loss so great. But I do know about what it’s like to watch your beloved husband shot just feet from you, know the gunman was going to shoot you (and he does), and then hear the gunman go inside your home and hear him shoot his own daughter…and be the only survivor of all that awful, wasteful violence. I know what it’s like to know you should be thankful that you are alive to raise your precious children…that they have not been left orphans, but to want to just curl up in a ball and die yourself. I know what it is like to desperately want to change places with your dead spouse. I know what it’s like to want to rewind the clock and get a “do over.” But we can’t and we won’t, and we will never have explanations as to “why” that will satisfy. “It is what it is”…and we have to move forward whether we like it or not…or the darkness really does win.

I know all about that darkness, but I also know—and this is the most important thing I know-- that God really does hold us during these horrific times.  I know if He holds me, then He holds each of us. 

In my mind, Todd and S.N. are surrounded by Light and Love. They are not encased in darkness. This is my perception, and I believe it is only possible because most (certainly not all) days I am able to acknowledge I am being Held.



Two months is too little.

They let him go.

They had no sudden healing.

To think that providence would

Take a child from his mother while she prays

Is appalling.

Who told us we'd be rescued?

What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?

We're asking why this happens

To us who have died to live?

It's unfair.


This is what it means to be held.

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved.

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell we'd be held.

[ Lyrics from: ]

This hand is bitterness.

We want to taste it, let the hatred NUMB our sorrow.

The wise hands opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.


This is what it means to be held.

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved.

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell we'd be held.


If hope is born of suffering.

If this is only the beginning.

Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?


This is what it means to be held.

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved.

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell we'd be held.

This is what it is to be loved.

And to know, that the promise was when everything fell, we'd be held

This is what it means to be held.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Go, Lucy, Go!

My heart is soaring for the gift this family has received.  Go, Lucy, Go!!!  (and Kate, and Eric and Ella and Jack!)  The road ahead is still unclear, but they are choosing to savor the beauty of this day--and take the next step in faith that the step after will be revealed as they continue to put one foot in front of the other. 

As our family is well aware, not one of  us knows the exact number of our days.  It is important to me that my children and I be mindful to live the day we have, not the day we wish we had.  Some days this is difficult beyond imagination.  In allowing us to share in part of their journey, the Krull's inspire me to strive to live each of my days giving thanks, savoring the beautiful (in its many forms) and not just prayerfully seeking, but actually taking, the next step that is laid before me.  Go, Lucy, Go. Your zest for life and your family's faithfulness continue to inspire and encourage a host of people you will never meet. 

They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.

Isaiah 60:21b

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lucy's Smile

Lucy continues to improve!  If you have been following her mom's blog, then I am sure you are already rejoicing with me!  If the pictures of this precious girl and her siblings don't make you smile big, then you are way past curmudgeon.

Friday, June 8, 2012


This is a loooooong and windy post.  It is really almost two or three separate posts, but to me they are connected by the fact that fear of negative consequences is not why God wants us to choose Life with Him. 

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear...We love, because he first loved us."   1 John 4:18-19
I was reading the story of the rich man and the beggar this morning. (Luke 16:19-31)  I am always struck by the fact that the rich man still wants Lazarus (the beggar) to serve him even in death.  The second thing I always ponder after reading this passage is if the rich man had truly allowed a change in his heart, instead of only expressing regret for being “caught out,”, then there would have been no chasm. (btw I don’t take this to mean a physical chasm, but a “heart-state” chasm  in which the two opposing heart-attitudes cannot possibly coexist or have any meaningful exchange.)  The rich man’s response indicates he is not concerned about his brothers recognizing God’s authority in their lives and receiving the Great Love that He offers but just hoping to help them avoid torment...big difference.   To me this confirms he is not sorry for his sin (of ignoring the needs of others) and the pain it caused, but only sorry he is in agony…big difference.  The rich man does not bow to God’s authority, submitting to His Great Love…he only acknowledges that the torment is really bad.   

I love the imagery of heaven and hell in CS Lewis’s The Great Divorce.   He paints a picture of choice even after death…people being willing to work toward fully receiving the Great Love of God or choosing to remain separated from this Love—but always the bus travels back and forth between the two places for its riders.   One of the reasons I like this book is because it speaks of the hope of reconciliation even after physical death.  I am not a Biblical Scholar by any stretch of the imagination, and I am quite sure that many could quote particular scripture to support the view that all choice ends at physical death. There is so much I do not understand, but as I read the totality of the Love Story that God’s Word is speaking to us—and the more I learn about the context in which each book was written-- I am reminded over and over that His Ways are not our ways, and that He acknowledges, in both Old Testament and New, that He speaks to us in parables and that His greatest desire is to reconcile all creation to Himself…but the choice is always ours…and He patiently (yet actively) waits.  So it is not too much of a stretch for me to see the choice as continuing beyond our physical death.  I picture in my mind, Jesus, greeting each person as physical life passes from their physical body…some who, by our earthly standards, did not believe or call on Him by name will immediately recognize Him and joyfully submit (voluntarily yield) and run to Him to be immersed in His Love.  Some who, by our earthly standards, seem to know Him well, will be unwilling to submit (voluntarily yield) to His authority--as it truly is and not as they have determined it should be--and receive His joy.

“This life is not for the body, it is for the soul, and man too often chooses the way of life that best suits the body.  Not the way that best suits the soul.”                                                   God Calling (edited by AJ Russell), June 8 entry 

“…I have set before you life and death…Now chose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the LORD is your life…”                                                                                        Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Being a good parent requires that we expect obedience from our children. Growing up, my mother always told me that parents who let their children do anything they wanted without (ever suffering negative) consequences did not really love their children.  Even as a child I knew there was truth in this.    Now that I am a parent myself,  I get the other piece of obedience-- that part of us that desires our children’s obedience come as a response to our love for them and not as result of what they will “get” or avoid getting.  Providing positive and allowing negative consequences is necessary to help children learn to make right choices and to provide a fence, of sorts, to keep them safe…but the fact that consequences are necessary to help us learn speaks to our selfish (sin) nature!   LOL, I know I am not the only parent who wants to instill in my children that the decisions I make are from the standpoint of my great love for them…and they must accept that these decisions will not always make sense to them.  How awesome it would be if they could accept this joyfully—perhaps a little Stepfordish, but awesome nonetheless ;-)—but I am just working toward acceptance…perhaps resignation?  Children are very astute, but we know they simply do not have the capacity to adequately understand or foresee the natural consequences of much of their behavior…and none of us likes to hear the word “no.”  But as parents, “no” we must say on a regular basis.   I do look at ways to say “yes,” but it is sometimes hard work!

These ponderings come from my own struggle right now to parent my children in life-giving ways--ways that will provide the best foundation for a life worth living—and knowing that I will forever fall short of the mark of perfection.  Heck, even though I know from experience that my greatest joy comes when I give of myself, I still act foolishly and selfishly on a regular basis.  It all leaves me feeling a bit like the “blind leading the blind.”   Of course, this dilemma brings me back full-circle to the fact that I still need a Parent to Parent me.  I am so thankful that I have One. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


My heart is breaking for the precious Krull family.  I have never met them, but I have been following Kate's blog (2  kids, a minivan and a mortgage ) for over a year now.  Their 6 year-old, Lucy, was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer in Feb. 2011.  Kate writes so beautifully and honestly about her triumphs and struggles as a mom and child of God. 

Lucy's cancer is back, and her mom posted there is nothing more that can be done.  I am so attached to this sweet family I have never even met.  I am crying so hard I cannot even see to type. Please pray Peace, Comfort and Strength for Erik, Kate, Ella, Lucy, and Jack.  There is just so much pain and hurt...and yet, I still believe I serve a loving God who never leaves us nor forsakes us--ever.  I could never explain the "peace that passes all understanding" yet I have experienced it in my own life, so I am praying the great Love of Christ will sustain and keep and comfort this dear family even (or especially) in the midst of this unimaginable awfulness.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

long quiet season

I had a friend text me the other day that it had been one month and so many days since my last blog post...and that she thought i should get to it.  Since I am an obedient friend, here is a quick update.

The last few months have been what I would call a long, quiet season.  Lots going on underneath the surface, underneath the peaceful quiet.  Not frantic changes, but slow green growth. 
Sometimes this growth is painful, but mostly it is joyful and healthy.  I understand more and more what an amazing gift Todd's love is to each of us--Caley, Luke and I.  His love for us has provided a firm foundation on which we nourish old friendships as well as develop healthy, new relationships. 

At the end of January, I was set up on a blind date (by a friend whom I admire and trust) with a great guy named Alan.  He has a very kind and generous spirit, and I have really enjoyed getting to know him.  The kids like him very much.  

The kids are excited to be out of school and to have friends over to swim!  Caley had her hair cut off yesterday to donate to Beautiful Lengths.  She is very happy with her shorter cut!  With Alan's help, Caley has started a small vegetable garden, and Luke has a flower garden.    I just turned in grades for my May Semester class.  There will be a few meetings for which I will need to go in to work throughout the summer, but I will mostly enjoy many days of summer with my kids for the next two months!  I  plan to paint and work on other projects around the house, travel to see my mom, Katie, Hal and families, and...have eye surgery.  I have a covering over part of my left eye that must be peeled back before it covers my pupil.  I have that scheduled for the end of June.  It is outpatient, and I should be good-to-go after three or four days with only some minor irritation remaining. 

I have another post kicking around in my head about authenticity, but it is not ready to be birthed just yet.  For now,  I am going to clean house and enjoy my summer!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Angel Laughter

I am listening to 4 boys (ages 7 - 11)  laugh through the movie Despicable Me.  Oh, that sound brings a smile to my heart.  I think this must be how the angels in heaven sound. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


Sometimes, I feel like I am walking on water.   Why is it that whenever I am called out of the boat, I tend to scramble out as quickly as I can (okay, so sometimes I have to be pushed) ....only to be just like Peter, and sink when I take my eyes off Jesus?  I am so easily distracted from the Source of my strength and peace. BUT, I am getting better at realizing what is happening and putting my focus back where it needs to go.

I have felt like such a poser these last few days.  Fake smile, hiding resentment.  False laugh, hiding insecurity.  Fake, fake, fake.  I really dislike myself when I let me get all torqued up with the mix pride and insecurity.   Almost the minute I started my quiet time this morning, I felt a release of the ugliness.  I have been so tired the last few mornings, that I haven't really done much but try to slurp my coffee and stay awake during this sacred morning time.  In the evenings, I just chose to do other things. Why I don't fall to my knees the minute these feelings well up, I have NO idea, but I don't.

I  was recently reminded again of how fragile life is...we can make ourselves sick trying to balance it all and then it upends on us.  Wednesday, I heard of two different families facing heartache of epic proportions.  The friend who was pouring out her heart to me about these families devastated by tragedy, has her own story of trouble and heartache...but her story is also full of beauty, love, and faithfulness--God's faithfulness.   Our hearts ache for the journey these families face, but with lots of hope that, with lots of help, they will eventually move from tragedy to sharing their own story of grace, peace and healing. 

Puts all this posing in perspective...for the waste of time that it is.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I was driving down the road yesterday, thinking about some old neighbors.  (from about 14 years ago when we still lived in Brownsville.)   I couldn't remember the wife's name, and I caught myself thinking "I will have to ask Todd."   For that one moment, everything felt so the old familiar kind of way.  Strangely comforting.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two Old Posts

Found these in my drafts.  


New Me?

I did something very spontaneous the other day. I was commenting to a friend how "out of character" this was for me. She replied, "you have got to stop saying that. Maybe that wasn't how you used to be, but perhaps this is you now."

I thought about it. She is right. I have made a good many spontaneous decisions in the last year and a half. I can no longer say that it is "out of character." Todd would be proud!



I just have to laugh at myself when I realize how seriously I take myself sometimes…and how I want to put God in a box. I get upset when I don't understand how to fit life into this box. I stomp my feet and cry and scream – all of which I have actually done this past week.

But how awesome it is when I accept that none of it will fit inside my box…and the parts I have stored in there have pieces that are missing. Free. That's how I feel right now, free.

I am giggling to myself because I am thinking of how trying to fit life into any kind of container is just like trying to zip up your overstuffed suitcase after you have managed to get the last item in (basking in your moment of triumph) only to look over and see another pile of things that needs to fit. Futile ;-)

Seek justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly with your God

We were made to be courageous
Lord, make us courageous



But everything inside you
knows there is more than what you've heard
And you're on fire when He's near you

When everything inside me looks like
Everything I hate
You are the hope I have for change

I'm standing on the edge of me…

I'm on fire when You're near me
And I'm on fire when You speak
And I'm on fire burning at these

                                               On Fire
                                    Songwriters: Foreman, Jonathan; Victor, Daniel;

I am a big Switchfoot fan, but I just found this song.
I think it is absolutely beautiful.  Close your eyes and just listen.
On Fire

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Change of Address

“Our past does not define us, it prepares us.” I recently came back across this quote, and it speaks so clearly to where I find myself at this moment and to the hope I have that nothing is wasted in God’s economy. We humans have such a capacity to hurt, but, thankfully, God’s nature is to heal.

Someone, early on, sent me a card that has a picture of a little girl twirling outside in the sunshine and shadows. I still have it on my refrigerator, because the picture never fails to bring a smile to my heart (although sometimes it is a very weak smile), and it has been a powerful reminder that—although I could not imagine it at the time--I could dance and twirl again. Little by little, hard fought battles have been won so that I have begun to feel like that little girl on a more regular basis. The scripture verse on the inside of the card was from Psalm 35.

But let me run loose and free, celebrating God’s great work,
Every bone in my body laughing, singing,
“God there’s no one like you.”
Psalm 35:9-10 (The Message)
I still catch myself sometimes getting caught up in the victim mentality…the one where there is never any singing or dancing or twirling. The one where I live like I am powerless to make changes. I can still hear Todd speaking to me when I was upset about something with the kids and how they were behaving and feeling like a victim in my own home. (yuk! I hate to even admit that, but it is true.) He looked at me and said with firmness and love and support, “You are the momma.” I immediately knew what he meant, and I also knew he was right. I had the power to change things. So, when I have these “victim moments” about my life now, I translate “I am the momma” into “I am a beloved daughter of the King, ” which reminds me I do not have to live in a place of doubt and fear and powerlessness. When I recognize the lie I have been believing, it is almost like the feeling I have when I first realize I've had a nightmare...the great relief that none of the feelings and fears are true.  Light is immediately able to pore back into my soul.   With God’s help, I do have the power to change my address. 

I suspect I have blogged about all this before, but this seems to be the way life is, for me anyway. My paths come back around in a spiral to cross many of the same places I have been before.

For God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Real Beauty

Feb 2

I heard great reminders all day today that God never leaves us not forsakes us.  That He is our Refuge and our Rock, and that He does offer the Peace that passes all understanding in this crazy, unpredictable world.  I spent time with some new and old  women friends who were just busy spreading beauty (and they probably have no idea how desperate I am to recieve that kind of beauty).  The sweet thoughts, prayers and words of these women friends are life-giving.  I am breathing deep.

Mindless Chatter

Feb 4

Okay, so this will come as NO surprise to most of you…but I have GOT to be one of the world’s most uncoordinated beings. I picture myself moving gracefully, but you know, it’s just not me. I regularly trip…even in tennis shoes. I love heeled shoes, so you can see the potential problem. I have shared the story with many of you, of stepping off the curb while texting and phone flying one direction, clogs going another and my body laying flat out in yet another.

Today, I felt like I was in an old Friends episode…it just goes to show you that slapstick is funny, even when it is not scripted and being performed by a beautiful, famous starlet. I was visiting a nice clothing boutique in town, which was having a big sale. After digging through all the sale clothes upstairs, I came down to circle through the store one last time before making my purchases. I saw a precious dress (which, of course, would be a shirt for me because there is NO way I could run around, even in leggings, in a dress that short.)  I need to mention this dress was something like crochet. I also must mention that I have one of those Baggallini purses with the industrial looking zippers and hooks.  Do you see that a beautiful, delicate, crocheted dress and small purse with large zipper hardware would not make a good match? As I went to hang it back up (because it looked way better on the hanger than it did on me), the dress caught on some of the purse hardware…it didn’t just catch (which would have been bad enough), one of the clasps had sucked it in. I made a half-hearted attempt to free the dress with my hands full.  Unsure of how to juggle everything, and not tear the dress, I quickly dropped to my knees and laid the dress on the floor next to me. I am beginning to realize I am probably going to have to buy this very expensive dress and learn to love it…with a big patch where I will have to knot the torn yarn over the left shoulder area. I try to work the dress off of the clasp, but I know that even if I am successful, the dress will probably be puckered there, and I will still have to purchase it. I give a cry for help. (Do you see why this might be evolving into a Friends episode?) No one hears me, so I stand up and cry out again “I need some help!” (Oh, we used to laugh at my Gran, because as she got older she would stand in the aisle in a store and just holler out “Help!” until somebody came to answer her question or help her find what she needed . If we were anywhere nearby we would come running over, mortified, but laughing and shushing. ;-) A girl comes running over (thinking I have fallen, I’m sure). I explain to her what has happened, and tell her I need her help to get the dress unattached from my purse.  I can tell she is confused and worried that I have damaged the dress, so I assure her I will buy it if I have damaged it in any way. We both lean down toward the floor as I point toward “exhibit A” , but the dress and purse have become mysteriously unattached. They are just lying quietly on the floor next to each other. I say an inward “hallelujah!” but the girl is looking at me like I am nuts…but with that polite smile that says “I am not going to say anything, but you are nuts.” I point to where I think I see a pucker, and I ask “Can you see anything there?” She shakes her head as she continues to examine the dress at my prompting. Well she and the additional help we have attracted, cannot find anything wrong with the dress. (Whoo hoo!)  And truthfully, they were very kind about it.  I made my way to the cash register, paid for my other items and tried not to slink or hold my head down as I exited the store. You know, trying to give the appearance that this kind of thing is normal, and I am unruffled. I am pretty certain I didn’t pull that off ;-)

I won’t even give you the details of my Wal-Mart trip this same day. I am a Kroger girl, and I think the Kroger-gods were punishing me for stepping over to the dark side. I will tell you it involved me not being able to find a basket and almost ripping my new coat at the check-out.

LOL…it is so good to be home

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life's Soundtrack

There have been quite a few songs to which I listened when I was (much) younger, but for which I make my daughter change the station. Usually this doesn’t happen until after I have started singing loudly, lost in nostalgia, and I realize the lyrics I’m singing are NOT ones I want her repeating!  …so she (under orders ;-) or I quickly change the station, and she pouts…

Last night, Journey’s Lights came on.  “Your daddy and I liked this group.”  She turned it up as we were pulling into the garage at home.  We had so much fun sitting in the car, Caley and I both pretending we had microphones and Luke covering his ears.  I belted out those long-ago-learned lyrics, and there were plenty of oh oh ohs and my my mys to go around (and lots of air guitar too). 

As she ages, Caley will have her own soundtrack to go along with a lifetime of memories.  Life’s ups and downs will become cataloged according to the music of that particular time in her life—and if she is like most of us, just hearing a few chords of a particular song will immediately conjure a memory.   I love sharing my (and her daddy’s) soundtrack with her…although she will have to be much older to hear a lot of it ;-)     

Sunday, February 5, 2012

East to West

I heard the Casting Crowns’ song East to West on my way home today. The words always remind me that I am not the only one who continues to struggle with strongholds I thought I was free of, and that my sin never has to be the last word.

Psalm 103:12   New International Version (NIV)
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

East To West lyrics
Songwriters: Hall, Mark; Herms, Bernie;

Here I am Lord and I'm drowning
In Your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest

I don't want to end up
Where You found me
And it echoes in my mind
Keeps me awake tonight

I know You've cast my sin as far as
The east is from the west
And I stand before You now
As though I've never sinned

But today I feel like
I'm just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far
The east is from the west?
'Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
Rising up in me again

In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
You know just how far
The east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in

Today I feel like
I'm just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far
The east is from the west?
'Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
Come rising up in me again

In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'Cause You know just how far
The east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I know You've washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through
To get me through this night

I can't live by what I feel
About the truth Your word reveals
And I'm not holding onto You
But You're holding onto me, You're holding onto me

Jesus, You know just how far
The east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been
Come rising up in me again

In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'Cause You know just how far
The east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

Just how far
The east is from the west
Just how far
From one scarred hand to the other

You know just how far
The east is from the west
Just how far
From one scarred hand to the other

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Riverside Park

This morning, I woke up thinking about things even further back than high school. I woke up with a picture in my mind of my friend, Janie. We share a birthday (day and year), and her parents are long-time friends of my parents. I remember hearing the story as I was growing up, about my dad trying to call them to tell them that I had been born, only he couldn’t reach them…because they were at another hospital having their baby girl. In this mind picture, we are celebrating our birthday together at Riverside Park. I am picturing her in a terry-cloth green and yellow jumper…as I recall, I had several of those terry-cloth jumpers, and they were the way to go for early 1970s comfort in the hot, humid, South. ;-)

I remember having birthday parties at Riverside with siblings and cousins and homemade cake, and blankets spread on the grass. I remember my brother being stung on his lip more than his fair share of times by yellow jackets who desired to sip his soda at the park. I remember playing in Dead Man’s Gulley (or was it Gulch?) on the Nature Trail that ran behind the park.  I remember the water fountain, swing sets and play ground and going around and around on one of those spinning wheels (with a flat surface) kids can jump on…and getting sick when I stayed on too long. I remember the long walkway lined with shady trees.

I woke up with pieces of all these memories swirling around in my head. I think it all started with Hawaii Five-O. Thinking about my high school band made me think of my friend, William. He played drums in the band. William, is Janie’s cousin. My cousins and I spent many fun weekends (Sunday afternoons?) at Riverside Park…when it looked way different than it does now…oh, and it was FREE to get into the park then too. (Was it Dead Man’s Gulch or Gulley? Is that where we dug for fossils? Did Hal really get stung as many times as I seem to remember?) As you can tell, it is like the old song “I remember It Well” since I don’t think I have a lot of the details correct, but the very fond memories of the people and place remain. I think details are overrated anyway. ;-)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hawaii Five-O

As I was driving home tonight, I heard the Hawaii Five-O theme song on the radio. I smiled soooo big. It took me a few seconds to realize why this song made me smile. Besides liking the old tv series, I also remember my high school band played this song a lot. (I cannot remember, however, if the Misses had a routine to this.)
Since Todd died, memories like this have a special place for me because pretty much my entire adult life was intertwined with his. Fond memories from high school and freshman year of college have a special sweetness all their own because he was not part of my life then…so they don't have the bittersweet taste of the many fond memories from the years after. So…any of you 1981 Murrah Mustangs out there, hum along with me (du du du du dun dun…du du du duuunnnn ;-)

Next Day, guess what  I heard?  (and this will only be good to any vintage Murrah Misses out there) "Get Ready" by The Temptations. How funny.  I started thinking "tap, swivel, hook, push" before I could stop myself.  How is that I can remember that piece of totally useless information, but I cannot remember where I last laid my car keys? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aunt Shirley

Todd's Aunt Shirley died this week. Todd's folks lived overseas when we were dating, so I think I actually met Shirley before I met his parents. I immediately liked her. She had a beautiful smile and was easy to talk to. She loved Todd much, and, of course, she was heartbroken like the rest of us when he died. For my kids, she has been another connection to their daddy. She would tell them funny stories about their daddy and his cousins (her 2 boys). In my mind, I can hear her laughing as she recounted some mischief Todd, Chase and Eric had gotten into…or a story of some mischief she had gotten into with her big sister (Todd's mom) when growing up ;-)

The day she died, I had something happen that I know would have made her smile. I thought about it the following day, and it comforted me to know that she would have approved.

As I was getting ready to go to the funeral home tonight, I felt a panic rising up inside me. Just family and one set of close friends were gathering to spend time together and sort of say personal goodbyes…so similar to the gathering we had 2.5 years ago…and the memories washed over me and I was scared I would lose it. I don't mind crying, but this wasn't the time for a total meltdown. It was okay though. I really felt Todd and Shirley both in my heart—in a good way. Almost like together they were holding us in their hearts with smiles, laughter, compassion (for our pain), and, of course, love.

The main service is tomorrow. I hope everyone there will feel surrounded by smiles, laughter, compassion and love.

Good Things

January 22, 2011

The kids and I are doing well.  Our little family is thriving.  We still yell and kick and scream (okay, so that is mostly me ;-), but we are pretty quick to recover.  Actually, I have not been yelling and kicking and screaming so much these days, and that is a very good thing.  Yeah!  

As I was singing in a church I was visiting,  I was thinking about several friends who are dealing with serious issues.  They were singing too.  I thought about how amazing it is that we are all there together, singing, pouring out our hearts--our sickness, grief and joy.  How amazing it is that we can stand together and bind up each other as we journey together.  What a gift to share in someone's joy or sorrow.   We may not be able to make their pain go away or change their circumstances, but we can sometimes lessen the pain or increase the joy just by being present.  We--every single one of us--possess such powerful and amazing gifts and capacities.  May each of us recognize and use them wildly and with abandon this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So Simple

What you are doing I cannot do, what I'm doing you cannot do, but together we are doing soemthing beautiful for God, and this is the greatness of God's love for us-

Mother Teresa

 I can sure complicate this simple idea. 


Monday, January 9, 2012

The Good in Us

Since I was a child, I have loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia books. I have enjoyed them as an adult every bit as much as when I first read them, and I have loved sharing them with my children. I still cry almost every time I read about Lucy and Susan watching as the White Witch humiliates and slays Aslan (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) on the stone table, and rejoice with them when they realize that Aslan has overcome death.

It will be no big surprise, then, that I am no particular fan of the movie versions. However, there is something about the battle scenes that always gets me…with a lump in my throat and often, tears too. I am sure you know the emotion. It is not joy. It is not sadness. It is something that comes from that which is best in you being challenged to show itself. A knowing that there is goodness and strength and courage in this world. And a knowing that there is a Source for it.

My favorite scene in Peter Jackson's film version of The Fellowship of the Ring is Gandalf banging his staff and thunderously proclaiming "You shall not pass" when he is up against the (bog?) creature in the caves. He is not thinking of himself at all…in fact, he is nowhere to be found on his own radar. He is simply responding to the situation from the depths of his character.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Stephen ( Acts 6-7). He was stoned to death, but his story is not at all sad to me, primarily because it includes his response, and it seems he was not thinking of himself. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

I realize that every day I have opportunities—both large and small-- to stand up for what is good. I know that some opportunities go unnoticed by me. I also know there have been times when I have consciously chosen not to stand. Not good. Sometimes we get "redos," and sometimes we don't. But, thankfully, every day provides a day full of new opportunities to get it right.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Friday, January 6, 2012

Todd Jr.

My sweet child is sitting on the couch with his legs outstretched onto the coffee table, ankles crossed. Those of you who know him can picture it, I'm sure. He looks just like Todd jr.
He says about a character in a show we are watching, "She is trying not to cry."  Then he adds, motioning emphatically with his hands,  "Even *I'm* trying not to cry. They make everything SO dramatic."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fear Not

One of my favorite books is The Stars Shone in My Hands by Julia (Judy) Catherine Parker (2004). I find myself returning to it regularly because this collection of reflections speaks so truly to my heart. Forgive me if I have shared this one before, but every time I read it I am comforted and encouraged.

Exerted from the reflection Fear Not:
…Spiritually, however, there was healing waiting for me that I could not imagine... At this weekend retreat, not only was Paula D’Arcy speaking, but a special group of Haitian friends.
I picked up a copy (of Paula D'Arcy's book A New Set of Eyes)…I opened it at random. I was riveted by Paula's words.
    The path is always the same. It begins with a knowing that the power is not in the circumstances I face, but in what I meet them with. It is my response to what happens to me that determines the course of my life. Pain is transformed when met with the nature that lies within; when met with that which is greater than pain. This inner spirit is who I really am. ... To live in its knowledge is to know yourself to be free.
    I watched that knowledge once in the face of a young woman from Haiti, Sheraz. …The streets were violent and the threat of harm continuous. But when I hugged Sheraz goodbye, whispering "Be safe," into her ear, she stood back and looked straight into my eyes with her dark beauty. "Safe," she repeated. "It used to be my prayer. But now I recognize that we may not be safe. And if this is our portion, so be it." No sentimentality. No smallness. Only clarity.Freedom.A beauty beyond the usual definition. The Self we most deeply are.

I was stunned. I knew I had a deeply felt sense of entitlement around issues of safety for myself, and those I loved. I could not get to Sheraz fast enough. I asked her to meet with me, and our conversation is one I will never forget.
"How did you get where you are?" I asked as I told her of my fears. She was not glib. She told me she had lived all over the world with a Saudi Arabian father and a British mother. She found herself in Haiti only because her husband, Louis, felt called to go and help his people. Without hearing the exact words, I knew her life was hard and dangerous.
"My favorite psalm is Psalm 91," she said, which of course, was mine, too. As we shared further she laughed gently at my admitted sense of entitlement. " God is sovereign," she emphasized. "I know He is with me no matter what. My own safety or the safety of those I love cannot be a condition of my relationship to Him. I know whatever happens will be redeemed no matter how horrible." Then she added these astounding words. "Should I be attacked, I pray I will be more concerned for the salvation of my attackers than for myself. I want to be thinking of them, not me."
When I went back to our room that night, and settled into bed, I found my eyes drawn to a framed poster…in beautiful calligraphy it proclaimed "Fear Not, For I have Redeemed You," the opening line of Isaiah 43. Suddenly, I saw it afresh. The words had become so familiar that they held little meaning for me.
… I began to understand "Fear not, for I have redeemed you," meant not only past, but present and especially future redemption of all things. I began to slowly realize that whatever happens, under the Sovereignty of God, it is already redeemed.
I read this verse, in context, from Isaiah 43:1-2 (RSV)
1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you,   O Israel; "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."


The words of Isaiah 43:1-2 remind me (susan) there is nothing that can be taken from me in this life that cannot or will not be redeemed by God—nothing will be wasted for those who choose relationship with Him.  The road has rarely been straight, and I have done my share of wandering, but I have never been able to abandon this relationship I have with my Creator, Redeemer, King.  During our marriage,Todd and I walked through fire more than once, and we were burned in the earthly sense--but each time, we were ultimately and amazingly strengthened in the spiritual, eternal sense.  We both had times when we thought we would be overwhelmed--but we weren't.  I continue to be aware of how much we balanced each other, and how different parts of me are awakening and gaining strength to compensate for his absence.  It seems these previously dormant parts really were paying attention to the lessons he was sharing (just by being himself) all those years. 

My New Year's prayer for myself, my children and others whom I hold dear:
Fear Not. Live boldly. Share yourself (your life and love) in healthy and life-giving ways, knowing that the God of all Love (agape) is with you always and He has, does, and will redeem it all (past, present, future).